Quality improvement at an acute medical unit in an Asian Academic Center: A mixed methods study of nursing work dynamics

Ming Ann Sim, Soo Hoon Lee, Phillip H. Phan, Aisha Lateef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The acute medical unit (AMU) provides early specialist care to emergency department patients before inpatient admission. The workflows and skills for successful AMU nursing comprise a hybrid of internal and emergency medicine. Purpose: To understand nursing work dynamics in the AMU. Methods: AMU at a 1,250-bed tertiary academic center in Singapore with 14,000 ED presentations monthly. Retrospective mixed methods study using focus group discussions and surveys. Fifteen nurses across three focus group discussions. Thirty-two physicians and 54 nurses responded to a validated questionnaire. Findings: Focus group discussions transcripts content analyzed by two researchers. Survey items factor analyzed and attitudinal differences between AMU physicians and nurses, and among nurses compared using Student's t- and one-way ANOVA tests. Discussion: AMU nursing staff faced obstacles of inadequate patient information, emergency department onboarding, unbalanced workload, and coworker conflicts, which led to them to develop processes and checklists to manage patient information, patient expectations, and teamwork. Conclusion: AMU nursing requires a combination of specialist internal medicine and emergency medicine skills. Training should familiarize nurse workforce with managing patient expectations and multidisciplinary teamwork.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-183
Number of pages15
JournalNursing outlook
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Analysis of variance
  • Emergency service
  • Grounded theory
  • Mixed methods
  • Nursing workflow
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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